BRITISH jihadists who return to the UK from Syria after becoming disillusioned with the extremists could be used to dissuade others from going to join the conflict, William Hague has said.
The Leader of the Commons and former Foreign Secretary said authorities would be prepared to assist ex-fighters who come back to the UK, provided they were satisfied as to their “good intentions” and that they were not planning attacks in the UK.
His comments come amid reports of Britons who left to join groups like Islamic State (IS) becoming disillusioned with the militants but fearing to return home in case they faced arrest.
While Mr Hague acknowledged that there had been more than 200 arrests this year in relation to people travelling to Syria and Iraq, he admitted that the authorities could also help people who had genuinely given up the struggle.
“Our top priority has to be the protection of the security of the people of this country, and that is why we will take action where we think people could be dangerous,” he said. “But the Home Office and the police and the health service are also working together on what we can do to assist those people who come back with good intentions, but of course we have to be sure that they do have good intentions.”
He indicated that in some cases it could be possible to use the returnees to help deter other British nationals who were considering trying to join groups in the region, adding: “We haven’t had a lot of those people coming back yet and saying they want to be of assistance, but if they do well then of course the Government, the police, the National Health Service, will work with those people and help them to recover and to assist others.”